The outing to the Stockton Airborne Express (which was harder to find than a Christian Coalition member in a gay bar, by the way) really lifted my spirits. The package arrived with all eight babies alive and in good condition. The breeder is Kathy Love, who literally wrote the book
on corn snakes. She has a wonderful website called Cornutopia
. If you like snakes at all, don't miss it!
My corn snakes won't get their full adult colors for awhile, so I am just starting to see what the babies will look like. Hints of orange are peeking through here and there. I can tell where the white will be on the (so-far) very pale albinos. All of them are nearly twice the size of Bijou, my yearling Louisiana milksnake. In a few months they'll surpass Bayou. The three Okeetees almost equal him in length already.
I have to leave them alone for three days, which is very hard. They're so cute with their little bandit masks and flickering tongues. They remind me a bit of our local gopher snakes, only not nearly as robust. They're almost as streamlined as my kingsnakes at this early stage. Their tails are much longer in proportion to their bodies than those of the familiar local gopher snakes.
The breeder has a special agreement with the airlines about transporting live snakes, but doesn't want to alarm local Airborne Express employees. When asked a direct question, I have a very hard time lying, but I didn't want to renege on an agreement with the seller.
"What's in here?" asked the Airborne Express rep. She looked young and impressionable. The air holes were conspicuous. It probably didn't help that warnings were posted all over the box to keep it cool and out of direct sunlight. In one corner were the mystical words: "8 Elaphe guttata
." That's the scientific nomenclature for corn snakes. Elaphe guttata! What a wonderful phrase. Elaphe guttata! Ain't no passing craze!
I looked at the box for clues on how best to lie my way through this. "Um...these are perishable...er, supplies."
OK, in a way that's true. The snakes are perishable. And they are supplies for my someday breeding colony. In the meantime, they'll make great pets...once they're over the stress of the move.
Can you imagine what the little buggers went through? Who knows how many planes they were loaded onto? When they arrived, they arrived pissed. I had to make sure they were OK, so I opened the lids to their little containers. Each one greeted me with a rattling tail. You'd rattle your tail, too, if someone had just air-mailed you across the country. During the inspection, the head would invariable poke out, the tongue would flicker, and a few times I received a nip for my troubles.
"Well, they're definitely alive," I remarked.
I'm the only person I know who thinks a pissed-off baby snake is cute. I smiled at each tail rattle and laughed at each bite. Of course, I didn't want to stress them more than was necessary, but I had to admire an animal that let it be known it wasn't happy...to a creature thousands of times its size! That takes chutzpah!
Once home, I tucked them safely into their terrariums. I will only look, not touch, for three days, then try a feeding. After that, I still won't bother them much for awhile. They've undergone a very
traumatic experience. They don't need extra stress. But it's going go be HARD to leave them alone.
Did I mention they are very cute?
One thing I'm learning is that reptiles do everything slowly. I knew that already: head knowledge. But I'm also learning that they adapt to new environments more slowly than warm-blooded animals. It took my female kingsnake six weeks!!! She still isn't completely comfortable with her surroundings.
Because the corns are young, they should settle in a bit more rapidly, but I bet it takes at least two to three weeks.
(Note: I've renamed my Arizona Mt. Kingsnakes to Aragorn and Arwen. The other names were bothering me for some reason.)
Now comes the hard part.
I need names. Lots of names. Eight names for eight corn snakes.
I have one male and two female Okeetees. I have one male and two female albino (reverse) Okeetees.
Originally, I was supposed to get a pair of hypos or rosies, but they refused to eat frozen / thawed mice and I really don't like to feed live if I can help it. (Call me a wimp if you want to. I can feed live. I just prefer not to if it can be helped.)
So I got a male crimson and a female hypo with ghost heritage.
Did I mention I need names? Eight of them?
It would also be nice to get some ideas on how to play around with the crimson and the hypo. Both are hypomelanistic and the hypo has a primo ghost corn for a father, so she's het for type A anerythrism, too.
I really know very little about mixing and matching. Breeding them together would give me hypos for sure, but what color blotches? Very interesting.